Rubio’s WoodCream: Review Of The New Eco-Friendly Exterior Finish


Looking for a way to finish your outdoor wood project? Maybe you need a more opaque look, but still hoping the natural wood grain will show through? We tried Rubio Monocoat’s WoodCream for a trellis project and created this detailed product review to help you make a decision on whether it’s right for your project!

Updated 4/04/2024

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If you’re constantly working on DIY projects like us, then you’ve inevitably used a range of products when it comes to finishing wood surfaces. Lately, we’ve fallen in love with the Rubio Monocoat brand of products. If you know the Rubio brand, then it’s likely because you’ve heard of their interior product Oil Plus 2C, which is the ultimate wood finish for us.

But what about wood pieces that are outdoors and exposed to the elements?! Well luckily, Rubio also has some exterior finish products: WoodCream and Hybrid Wood Protector.

We recently tried the WoodCream on our DIY Tomato Trellis project. The trellis needed a more opaque colored product so that it would contrast the wood retaining wall right below it. We think it turned out pretty well! However, we wanted to share some more in-depth details about Rubio’s WoodCream, its difference from the other products, when to use it, how to apply it, and our takeaways from using it ourselves.

What is Rubio Monocoat’s WoodCream?

Firstly, let’s cover the basics of Rubio Monocoat’s WoodCream. It’s a wax-based cream finish that adds color and protects the wood while being breathable and hydrophobic. It creates a more opaque look, but the wood grain is still very visible underneath one of the 27 colors available. It has been developed specifically for vertical exterior wood surfaces.

Let’s dive into why this exterior wood finish is unique.

Cream Structure & Hydrophobic Finish

Wood fibers have a capillary effect that allows water to be easily absorbed. Rubio uses a wax-based cream that takes advantage of this capillary effect to absorb the cream and form a water-repellant surface. Their hydrophobic agent nourishes the wood while leaving the porosity open to retain the vapor permeability. The WoodCream’s hydrophobic and self-cleaning qualities can also help reduce the risk of micro-organism growth, like algae, mold, and fungi, as well as frost damage helping contribute to the longevity of the wood.

It’s really cool as this technology allows for the natural look and feel of wood still, but with a colored and water-repellant quality. I truly appreciate the look as we aren’t normally a fan of painted wood. Rubio’s WoodCream’s hydrophobic quality is a unique component, which makes it great for exterior use.

Showing the hydrophobic effect of Rubio Monocoat's WoodCream on a trellis post
Trellis Post Right After Water Hitting It

Sustainability Component

We personally try to DIY sustainably as much as possible by finding a balance of using eco-friendly products, using scrap materials, and more. Beyond the aesthetics, we like using Rubio Monocoat’s products as they emit 0% Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) when used, unlike other stains and paints. This means no chemical substances are evaporating into the air when used. VOCs can be harmful to people, causing allergic reactions or breathing problems, and are harmful to the environment by affecting the ozone and increasing the greenhouse gas effect. 

Moreover, Rubio focuses on natural ingredients, and you can also simply clean the application brushes with water as there are no harmful substances within the product. Lastly, with their products mainly needing only one coat, the overall consumption of the product is lower than traditional stain and paint consumption where multiple layers are often required and more product is needed to coat the surfaces.

Rubio Monocoat is committed to 0% VOCs and sustainable entrepreneurship, so it has numerous independent labs review and certify its products. You can view all of Rubio Monocoat’s certifications on their site.

For Exterior Use On Vertical Surfaces Only

When first looking at this product, you might wonder why it is for vertical surfaces only. I mean that feels kind of limiting doesn’t it? That was my first thought as well, but Rubio explained to me the product makeup and why this is.

Unlike other stain and paint options, Rubio Monocoat’s WoodCream can only be used on vertical surfaces as the wax cream structure is too soft for horizontal surfaces that might experience wear. It’s not meant for high-traffic, high-touch surfaces as mechanical friction from walking or rubbing can lead it to wear off faster. Most horizontal outdoor wood surfaces are high-use like tables and decks, so this product isn’t a good fit for that. However, it can be excellent for other outdoor wood surfaces like a trellis or a fence. We used it for our DIY tomato trellis in our terraced garden to give a nice clean white look, but still protect it and see the wood grain.

WoodCream Vs. Hybrid Wood Protector

We’ve been talking about the WoodCream, but Rubio actually has two exterior wood finish products currently. Both products will give a different finished look and feel and are best used for different applications. Here is a breakdown of the difference between the two exterior products.

WoodCreamMonocoat Hybrid Wood Protector
Wax-based creamOil-based
Opaque Look (can be diluted for transparency)Semi-transparent Look
Needs one or more layers to color/protectMonocoat = one coat colors/protects
For Vertical Surfaces ONLYFor Vertical & Horizontal Surfaces
Just brush on like paintingBrush on, wait, and remove excess with cloth
Available in 27 colorsAvailable in 22 colors
Can be diluted with WoodCream SoftenerCannot be diluted
Picture of Rubio's WoodCream next to Rubio's Hybrid Wood Protector sitting on a workbench surface

The WoodCream has a more painted, opaque look and can only be used on vertical surfaces. However, Rubio states you can dilute the WoodCream with their WoodCream Softener to give the wood a more aged, transparent look. When we used it, we were fine with the one layer as it added the color, but allowed the wood grain to show through. However, the Hybrid Wood Protector will expose more of the natural wood grain and can be used on both vertical and horizontal surfaces. So depending on the final look and type of DIY project, you’re going to have to decide which option makes more sense to use.

How To Use Rubio’s WoodCream

The application process for Rubio’s WoodCream is fairly similar to painting, which makes it pretty easy for anyone to do.

Prepare The Wood

Prior to starting to apply the finish, you need to prep the wood surface properly. WoodCream can be applied either on new wood with no finish or on older wood with a different product finish on it (aka a renovation as Rubio calls it).

With new wood, simply prepare the surface to the desired look. It can be planed, sanded or even wire brushed to achieve whatever look you desire. Then remove any dust and wipe the surface dry. Ensure the wood is dry prior to applying the WoodCream finish.

With older wood that has a different finish on it, start by cleaning the surface of any dirt or mildew with water. Rubio recommends a 10% mixture of their Exterior Wood Cleaner and water to thoroughly clean the surface. Then remove any loose fibers or finish coating by sanding, a steel brush, or brass brush. Lastly, wipe the surface free of dust and let it dry.

After the prep work, it’s time for the application.

Woman applying Rubio's WoodCream with a brush to a piece of lumber

Application Process

Applying the WoodCream only requires a few simple steps:

  • Step 1: Open can and stir well before applying to ensure good color mix
  • Step 2: Use a brush to apply evenly to a vertical section. Work in smaller areas like 3-4 boards wide to keep a wet edge.
  • Step 3:  In one motion, use the brush to take a final pass to help ensure even and consistent application of the WoodCream
  • Step 4:  Let dry 30 minutes prior to touching or apply a second layer after 3 hours. Fully dry in 12 hours.

Rubio notes that the second layer won’t adhere as easily as the first layer is already hydrophobic. So they recommend spreading the product with a brush in one smooth movement onto the first layer and to go over it several times. 

Also, when applying the WoodCream, it will look very opaque and almost like paint at first. However, as it dries the wood absorbs the cream and the natural grain is much more visible.

WoodCream Facts

According to Rubio, below is what you can expect for the WoodCream:

  • Spread Rate: 120-200 ft²/L
  • Cure time: depending on climate: ± 12 hours
  • Dry to touch: 30 minutes
  • Second layer: be applied after 3 hours
  • Water-beading effect: starts after 3 hours
  • Dilutable: Up to 1:1 using WoodCream Softener
  • Application temperature: 50°F – 80°F (10°C – 30°C)
  • Shelf Life: 24 months

What We Learned About Rubio’s WoodCream

Every time we try a product, we like to take notes on what we learned from our personal experience using the product and share our takeaways.

Wood Grain Is Still Visible

People paint wood for a lot of reasons like adding color, it’s cheap, and it can sort of protect the wood. Personally, we don’t love the look of painted wood because it tends to cover up the natural wood grain. However, we needed a contrasting color for our trellis from the garden’s wood retaining walls, so a more opaque colored look was the best choice. The WoodCream is a great alternative to paint as it allows the natural wood grain to still fully show through! 

Foam brush applying Rubio's WoodCream to a piece of wood from a trellis

Application Is Simple

If you’ve ever painted, then the WoodCream application is similar as it’s straightforward and simple to brush the product on. People don’t need any other special tools beyond a brush to be able to apply the product, which makes it accessible to even newer DIYers. You don’t need a buffer like Rubio’s Oil Plus 2C to buff in the product (although you can technically hand buff that product).

The Amount You Use Varies

Because it’s more like painting, the amount you use can vary depending on how heavy-handed you are with the application. Also, like most finishes, it depends on the how much the wood absorbs as some wood species will absorb more product than others. Rubio states that usage is around 5 to 8 g/ft² per layer, depending on the absorption of the substrate.

With the cedar wood, we used about two-thirds of 1 Liter on our trellis that was a little over 100 square feet. I’d always err on the side of ensuring you have slightly more than you need because you don’t want to run out mid-application or you could end up with an obvious transition line.

It’s Not As Forgiving As Other Rubio Products

It’s overlap technology isn’t the same as it’s oil-based products, so it’s less forgiving to apply and harder to get a perfect finish. What I mean by this is much like traditional stain or paint, you can sorta tell if you had to come back and add product in one spot or that you didn’t keep a wet edge, so a more noticeable line is present. Any thicker spots caused by brush lines or drip will also be obvious as well, so you have to be careful to smooth the product evenly as you’re applying it.

Moreover, if you touch the WoodCream accidentally anywhere on the surface when it’s still wet, it’s harder to touch that spot up and seems to still show even if you reapply the WoodCream. This is our experience, and there’s some user error on our part (like touching it in the first place). 

Obvious spot where post was accidentally touched prior to WoodCream drying

Only Use On Preassembled or Installed Surfaces

Because the WoodCream isn’t as forgiving, we’d personally recommend only using it on preassembled items or surfaces. We typically finish our DIY projects disassembled and then do final assembly after everything is dry. Usually because getting all the edges and corners can be harder when its already assembled. So we took the same approach when applying the WoodCream to our DIY tomato trellis. This led to us touching the trellis posts’ surfaces several times as we applied the WoodCream trying to get to all the sides at the same time.

Again, this is mostly first-time user error and us being used to Rubio’s other products where it’s not an issue to touch immediately. But I would recommend only using this on preassembled items or already installed vertical surfaces like walls or fences. Or be patient enough to wait and ensure you don’t touch it trying to apply the product to the other sides.

We’ll do a follow-up post after the growing season to see how Rubio’s WoodCream finish held up in our terraced garden space.

Rubio Monocoat – Where To Buy

You can buy Rubio’s Hybrid Wood Protector finish from several places. Personally, we’d recommend buying directly from Rubio as you have all the options available and the shipping is usually fairly quick.

  • Directly from the Rubio Monocoat – Their website allows you to get any color in either 100ML or 1 Liter. They also provide FREE shipping within the U.S. 
  • Buy from Amazon – great fast, shipping, but it seems to always be low in stock on Amazon. It’s also typically a few more dollars to purchase from them instead of Rubio.
  • Purchase from a local dealer – Only found in a few cities and not every dealer has every color and size available.
Finished Tomato Trellis with Rubio’s WoodCream in Snow White

WoodCream FAQs

Does WoodCream provide UV protection?

Yes, according to Rubio, WoodCream provides UV protection on the applied wood to prevent/reduce the aging effect, if properly maintained.

However, adding Rubio WoodCream Softener reduces the UV resistance of the product. This can cause premature discoloration. This discoloration effect depends on the amount of Rubio WoodCream Softener added.

 A transparent version called Transparent #0 under the Grey Collection that is also available in order to create a non-colored effect. This version has no UV-filter, it allows the wood to age naturally while still providing protection and water-repellency. The transparent version will also protect already-aged wood.

Is WoodCream Softener the same as WoodCream with no pigment?

No, use the color Transparent #0 for a transparent WoodCream. Rubio does not recommend using the WoodCream Softener alone on any wood.

How long can I use WoodCream after mixing with WoodCream Softener?

According to Rubio, once mixed, WoodCream and WoodCream Softener will remain stable for multiple weeks.

Can Rubio WoodCream be used on decks?

No, Rubio doesn’t recommend its WoodCream to be used on decks as it’s formulated for vertical surfaces only, like fencing. Use the Hybrid Wood Protector for decks like we did on our DIY Planter Box and check out our full product review.

Planter Box with Rubio’s Hybrid Wood Protector exterior finish

Is WoodCream good for use on any wood species?

Rubio does not specify that there is any issue with a specific wood species for the WoodCream product. So the WoodCream is good to use on all species of wood.

How long does the WoodCream finish last?

Depending on the chosen color, wood type, and orientation of the vertical wood, the color will last between 5 to 10 years. After about 5 years, the water-beading effect will gradually diminish, according to Rubio.

Can you use WoodCream for interior woodwork?

It’s not recommended by Rubio to use the WoodCream on any interior projects as the product is specially developed for exterior uses only.

More DIY Projects

Now that you know everything about Rubio’s WoodCream, it’s project time, right!? At least, that’s how we would feel. So check out more of our DIY projects articles for inspiration!

Hope you try this product and this review is helpful! Let us know what you think of the Rubio Monocoat’s WoodCream and what projects you’ve used it for in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

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